Sunday, July 8, 2007

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

So I've been on vacation the last two weeks, or "vacay" as the kids say. I've got four more books under my belt and four more reviews to write. This one's my second--actually, the only other--birthday present (thanks, Kelly).

Good Omens is older than I thought it was at first. I read Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys, which was published in 2005, and really enjoyed it, but this was a lot different. He wrote the introduction to The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and made it very clear that he's got a thing for Douglas Adams. Reading Good Omens, you can kind of tell. A lot of it feels like it's in the same style. The writing is clever, but the plot feels a little bit haphazard, like all the loose ends were tied together at the last minute, no matter how much of a stretch they needed.

I read somewhere that it was written as a loose parody on the movie The Omen, but, not having seen the movie, I felt like it was more of a spoof on the apocalypse in general. Events are set in motion to usher in the reign of the Antichrist and the great war between Heaven and Hell, but problems keep popping up. What really sets things in motion is that someone (a member of the Chattering Order of Satanic nuns) misplaces the baby Antichrist, who ends up growing into a normal boy with some serious persuasive abilities. The two characters who I thought would be most important actually ended up fading to the background for the most part by about the middle of the book, so it was hard to feel much interest towards them when they popped back up at the end. The demon Crowley and the angel Aziraphale, having been on Earth since it began, decide that they kind of like it here, and do what they can do thwart the oncoming end of said planet. A lot of other subplots show up for a few pages, then disappear, then take on more importance towards the end.

It was a fun read, but I had the same problems with it that I did with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. A lot of it seem kind of haphazard, characters and plots added for no apparent reason, just kind of made the book seem to busy. However, there are two covers you can choose from, so it's got that going for it:


Nihil Novum said...

I pretty much agree with your thoughts. Pratchett's solo stuff is plotted much more tightly, and Anansi Boys is funnier, I think (almost finished with that).

Also, except for the very beginning, I didn't get The Omen references either, and I just saw it.

Nathan said...

Anansi Boys is great, one of the best books I read last year.